The 16 members of the Player Advisory Council, four player directors on the Policy Board and executives from CBS Sports, NBC and Golf Channel converged on Harbour Town Tuesday afternoon to discuss ways to improve telecasts.
Among some of the highlights of the meeting was the possibility of players wearing microphones and doing on-course interviews, much like what is already a common practice on the Champions Tour. According to two members of the PAC, both options were widely embraced by players.
“About halfway through (the meeting), Paul Goydos said, ‘Why are we even talking about this? This is a no-brainer,’” said Jonathan Byrd, a member of the PAC.
Not all of the options were universally supported, however. One suggestion aimed at bringing more on-air exposure to up-and-coming players caused some discussion.
Currently, Tour players are paired within four categories, recent tournament winners and life members; former winners and past major and Players champions; players that finished in the top 125 in earnings the previous year and those who in the top 50 in the World Ranking; and, finally, Q-School and Nationwide Tour graduates.
Under one proposal, a young player, like Rickie Fowler who nearly won late last year straight out of college, could be pushed into one of the upper categories that would assure a favorable tee time for television (an afternoon start from the first tee) on either Thursday or Friday.
“Jim Furyk, who is a veteran guy, said it best. He said, ‘We’re here to represent the entire membership and I don’t care personally, but the Nationwide (Tour) and Q-School guys are going to be mad,” said Steve Flesch, who is serving his third term on the PAC.
Another option would give network executives what Flesch called a “wild card” tee time, which would move a player outside the top grouping categories, like Fowler last year, into a more favorable tee time for the telecast.
Interviewing players before they sign their score cards was also discussed. Currently, most on-air interviews occur after players verify their cards, which makes it difficult on Sundays to interview any player other than the winner.
“I’m definitely OK with that,” Byrd said. “That’s when everything happens. The emotion and everything.”
Byrd and Flesch also embraced the idea of on-course interviews, but, like all the options proposed at the meeting, each player should have the right to decline an interview.
“There is so much down time in a round. The only time I’m concentrating is right before I hit a shot, so in a four-hour round I might only be playing for about an hour,” Byrd said. “It might help me.”
Flesch was also supportive of the possibility of players wearing microphones: “I wouldn’t mind it, but I’d need a filter,” he smiled.